After drooling over Tom Bihn travel gear for far too long, I decided it was time to get real and find a one-bag system that would work for me and be within my budget. After much research, I decided to give the Osprey Farpoint 40 a try. With a retail price of $1601, the Farpoint 40 costs less than half of the Tom Bihn setup I was considering.
How I travel
Most of my travel is for business trips between 2-4 nights. Some large items I usually have to pack include a 15″ Lenovo laptop (work issued) and a pair of sneakers (either for the gym, or an alternative to my steel toes). When traveling for pleasure, I can leave the laptop at home.
Previous to purchasing the Farpoint 40, I was using an eBags backpack that I got for less than $50 and my Timbuk 2 Alchemist Messenger. The biggest reason I was in the market for something new was the comfort and size of the eBags backpack. The straps were not comfortable when the pack was loaded and it wouldn’t fit under an airplane seat.
How I picked the Farpoint 40
I knew I wanted to stay with a backpack. After the freedom of not having a roller bag, you don’t want to go back. I also wanted something that would hold my laptop (so I could one-bag it) and that would fit under an airplane seat (including the smaller isle and window areas).
My research first (and most frequently) pointed me to the Tom Bihn and GORUCK. While these all would be excellent choices, I decided that the Tom Bihn travel bags weren’t designed to be a backpack first (and their backpacks not big enough) and that the GORUCK aesthetic didn’t work for me2. When Ben Brooks suggested that I check out the Farpoint 40, I found many other recommendations for Osprey travel gear as well.
Osprey has been around since 1974 and has a lifetime warranty on all their products (like Tom Bihn & GORUCK). Since their main focus is backpacking, I knew their straps and support would be excellent. Knowing this, I was sold.
One important note to start, the Farpoint 40 comes in two sizes (S/M and M/L). The difference is mainly the positioning of suspension system to accommodate different torso lengths. As a big guy, I assumed I would be the larger size, but the fit guide put me in either (I ended up ordering the M/L)3.
Overall, the bag build is great. On the black pack I ordered, the inside lining is bright green, making it easy to see inside. The main compartment is a single large space with two compression straps. This makes it easy to pack in whatever method you prefer. The whole inside of the lid has a nice mesh zipper panel.
On the outside of the lid there are two compartments and two mesh pockets. The top pocket is great for your liquids bag if you are flying or anything else small that you might need quick access to. The large pocket has a padded laptop sleeve with a Velcro closure and a smaller padded zipper pocket (fits a Kindle or iPad). There is also plenty of room outside the tech pockets.
The front of the bag has two compression straps which help stabilize the bag, compress the front pocket, and keep the lid/pocket from opening too much. They also secure a flap of fabric around the zippers, making it harder for someone to gain access to your bag.
The most defining feature of the bag is the harness and hipbelt system. Everything is very well ventilated and padded and the addition of a sternum strap ties everything together. The LightWire frame (internal) helps distribute the weight to the hipbelt, which I found key to the comfort of the bag.
There is a stowaway backpanel to cover the harness system, which is great when you carry the bag horizontally (with the included shoulder strap) or need to slide it under an airplane seat.
The Farpoint 40 is my favorite travel bag to date. It is large enough to travel with one bag while still being comfortable to carry and small enough to fit under an airplane seat. For my 3 night business trip there was room to spare. As long as the front pocket isn’t packed too much (to make the bag round instead of square), I don’t see ever having issues fitting it under my seat.
The major complaint seen when researching this bag is the front laptop compartment (some feel that it unbalances the load). I did not find this to be an issue, and actually thought it made it easier to quickly remove and re-stow my laptop when going though airport security.
The only issue I had was using the bag as my day bag/briefcase while at a work conference. While it is doable, the bag does look quite unwieldy when it is not very full. I found using it in the shoulder bag configuration with the straps stowed to work the best. The outer compression straps do a decent job keeping the laptop from flopping around. This could be solved with a small, packable briefcase like the Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase.
The Farpoint 40 exceeded all expectations and has become my bag for all my travels. The bag is comfortable, fits under an airplane seat, and is sturdy. I foresee possibly adding a packable briefcase, but I plan to continue using this bag to travel with just one bag. The freedom of never having checked luggage or a second bag to deal with is a great way to travel. For the price, I’m willing to say that the Farpoint 40 can’t be beat. While I haven’t tried any of the popular, more expensive options, I imagine that it would also fare well against them.